Zones for Popular P.S. 321 and P.S. 107 Could Shrink Under DOE Proposal

By Leslie Albrecht on October 15, 2012 8:01am 

PARK SLOPE — Zones for two of Park Slope's most sought-after schools, P.S. 321 and P.S. 107, could shrink under a Department of Education proposal, officials say.

Zoning changes are in the works for all of Brooklyn's District 15, and DOE officials are expected to reveal the details at an Oct. 17 meeting of the District 15 Community Education Council, District 15 CEC president Jim Devor said.

Several versions of the rezoning plan have been floated, Devor said. Under the latest proposal, the zone for the high-performing P.S. 321 on Seventh Avenue and First Street would shrink, and DOE would open a new zoned school in the former Thomas Aquinas School building on Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue. That new school would take some students formerly zoned for P.S. 321 and some who had been in the zone for P.S. 39, on Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street.

An assistant principal from P.S. 321 could be installed as the principal at the new school, but that hasn't been finalized yet, Devor said.

At P.S. 107 on Eighth Avenue and 14th Street, a "small chunk" of the school's zone would be shifted to P.S. 10 on Seventh Avenue and Prospect Avenue, Devor said.

Rezoning P.S. 321 has been discussed for years, but this is the first time the DOE will float a formal proposal to shrink the school's zone, Principal Liz Phillips said.

She was opposed to rezoning at first, but has come to believe it's the only option as P.S. 321's enrollment has swelled to an all-time high of 1,450 students this year, she said. The school now has 11 kindergarten classes. Nine would be a more reasonable number, which means P.S. 321 would need to shed about 50 seats, she said.

P.S. 321 has never had a waiting list for zoned students, and Phillips said she doesn't "think it's right" to put zoned kids on a waiting list.

"We're at the breaking point now," Phillips said. "If we don't get some relief, the two alternatives are either high class size, or a huge kindergarten wait list. And, to me, both of those alternatives are not really acceptable."

Zoning maps are closely watched by homebuyers and realtors, who tout the zones for P.S. 321 and 107 as selling points in ads for multi-million dollar brownstones. The proposed zoning boundaries are expected to be revealed at the Wednesday meeting.

"I imagine I'm going to be hung in effigy in every real estate broker's office," Devor joked, adding that he regularly gets phone calls from apartment shoppers wondering if the home they're eyeing is in the P.S. 321 zone.

Any zoning changes must be approved by the CEC.

Devor said he and other members of the CEC welcome public comment at Wednesday's meeting. "This is one of the only areas where the power exists within the community and people in the community are making that decision," Devor said. "It puts a human face to the issues we have to decide. We want to get a full flavor of what parents think."

The District 15 Community Education Council meets Wednesday Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at P.S. 38, 450 Pacific St. at Third Avenue.

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